July 2021 – Succeeding Portugal and preceding France, Slovenia took on 1 July the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union with a programme focused on resilience for the post-pandemic period in a context of tensions with the EU about the respect of the rule of law.
The European Commission recently recalled that any country assuming the presidency of the Council must promote European values and that “freedom of the press is a key ingredient of democracy, and democracy is one of the fundamental values of the EU.” Indeed, the conservative government of this republic of two million nestled between the Alps and the Adriatic Sea, led by prime minister Janez Jansa, has often attacked the press. Furthermore, they are refusing to name its two delegate prosecutors at the new European State Prosecutor’s Office, and they support Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban whose law “on the protection of family” is criticized for being homophobic and has been the object of long talks at the last European summit (24-25 June).
“Together. Resilient. Europe”
Nevertheless, the Slovenian presidency’s programme is in line with those of its predecessors in the current presidential trio, Germany and Portugal, and highlights the important of democratic mechanisms.
Under the slogan “Together. Resilient. Europe,” the programme sets four priorities:
1. The resilience and recovery of the European Union. A strategically autonomous European Union
“Developing and enhancing plans and mechanisms to reinforce the European Union’s
resilience in the face of pandemics and largescale cyber-attacks. Recovery of the European Union from the pandemic that is based on a digital, green and fair transition.”
2. The Conference on the Future of Europe
“Organising discussions open to everyone who would like to contribute suggestions on how to build a common European future.”
3. A union of the European way of life, the rule of law and the same criteria for all
“A union of balanced rights and responsibilities, a high level of protection for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to freedom of expression.”
4. A credible and secure European Union. A union that is capable of ensuring security and stability in its neighbourhood
“A union of cooperation within the North Atlantic Alliance. A Union that actively seeks to achieve the strategic objective of a Europe that is fully united, free, and at peace internally and with other continents. A Union of protected external borders with clear differentiation between legal and illegal migration.”
Home affairs: migration and civil protection
Concerning Home affairs, the most important issue is the new Pact on Migration and Asylum, which is currently being discussed among the 27. “Particular attention will be devoted to further developing a comprehensive system for migration and asylum management in the EU and continuing negotiations on legislative proposals, as well as strengthening mutually beneficial partnerships with countries of origin, transit and destination,” says the Slovenian presidency’s programme.
Concerning security, the programme ambitions to “ensure a high level of security in the EU, mainly through improved and enhanced police cooperation, where the proposal to amend the Europol Regulation will be particularly relevant.”
Concerning civil protection, activities “will focus on building resilience to natural and other disasters, with plans to strengthen the Union Civil Protection Mechanism in all phases of disaster management, including improving the response to large-scale disasters, by developing the EU’s civil protection objectives in terms of disaster resilience and by bringing together various stakeholders and establishing the Union Civil Protection Knowledge Network.”
Justice: against hate speech and crimes
In the area of justice, the Slovenian presidency will “strive to raise awareness of the importance of effectively combating hate speech and hate crimes, as these constitute acts that violate the principles and values on which the European Union is founded and which are common to all Member States.” Particular attention will be paid to effectively combating illegal hate content, which is particularly prevalent online. The Slovenian presidency will also “devote attention to the victims of crime” and will continue activities in this area, with a special focus on the rights of children.
Solidarity and resilience
The Slovenian presidency will also strive to strengthen the EU’s resilience to crises (health, economy, climate in particular). “Working together, supporting each other and acting in solidarity for the good of each and every European citizen will be key to strengthening the EU’s resilience.”
 European Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič quoted in Euractiv (May 2021): https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/short_news/commission-concerned-about-situation-in-slovenia/
 Le Monde 24 June 2021, “Droits LGBTQ + en Hongrie : Viktor Orban sous pression au sommet de l’Union européenne”: https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2021/06/24/viktor-orban-justifie-la-loi-discriminatoire-hongroise-et-dit-defendre-les-droits-des-homosexuels_6085533_3210.html
 Presidency of the Council of the EU: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/council-eu/presidency-council-eu/